Talk Radio Study Demonstrates Misuse Of Public Airwaves

From Huffington Post, June 22, 2007
By Dave JohnsonFree
Press and The Center for American Progress have teamed up to produce a
report on talk radio that is very interesting. The Structural Imbalance
of Political Talk Radio. Some excerpts from the summary:

Among radio formats, the combined news/talk format (which includes
news/talk/information and talk/personality) leads all others in terms
of the total number of stations per format and trails only country
music in terms of national audience share. Through more than 1,700
stations across the nation, the combined news/talk format is estimated
to reach more than 50 million listeners each week.

And what options are presented to the public by these stations?

* Our analysis in the spring of 2007 of the 257 news/talk stations
owned by the top five commercial station owners reveals that 91 percent
of the total weekday talk radio programming is conservative, and 9
percent is progressive.
* Each weekday, 2,570 hours and 15 minutes
of conservative talk are broadcast on these stations compared to 254
hours of progressive talk—10 times as much conservative talk as
progressive talk.
* A separate analysis of all of the news/talk
stations in the top 10 radio markets reveals that 76 percent of the
programming in these markets is conservative and 24 percent is
progressive, although programming is more balanced in markets such as
New York and Chicago.

Yikes! This study demonstrates that
consumers are not allowed choices of different opinions and analysis.
These stations are licensed to use public airwaves. By limiting choices
in this way, are they serving the public interest?

Is it a licensing issue? Again, from the study,

Ownership diversity is perhaps the single most important variable
contributing to the structural imbalance based on the data.
Quantitative analysis conducted by Free Press of all 10,506 licensed
commercial radio stations reveals that stin, from the study,ations
owned by women, minorities, or local owners are statistically less
likely to air conservative hosts or shows.

In contrast, stations controlled by group owners—those with stations in multiple
markets or more than three stations in a single market—were
statistically more likely to air conservative talk.

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